What’s Normal?

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November 20, 2013 by Angel Pricer

questionIt’s been a long time since I’ve been able to work outside of the home. Being a mother has been my main focus for many years.  It’s a role that has required me to be available at a moment’s notice to deal with the extraordinary situations that frequently arise.

My grandmother likes to say ‘being a mother is the most difficult job in the world…and you don’t get paid for it either!” Whether you work outside the home or not, motheringPARENTING – is the most IMPORTANT job in the world. And that’s the message I hope my kids will share about me when I’m a grandma.

Now that my oldest son’s needs are being met in a different setting, I am once again able to hold a job and earn a much needed paycheck. There is a striking connection between the individuals I support and my experiences with my oldest son in the education and community settings. This is what happens when love leads the way!

As I learn to navigate the new work/writing/home life balance, I hope to continue with my Monday/Wednesday/Friday post schedule, albeit with briefer pieces. However, if posting deadlines begin to eclipse the nightly New Hampshire call, girl talk, bedtime stories, and hubby snuggles, then that schedule will have to change.

The Mission & Vision of the organization I am working with is crafted around the concepts of Normalization and Social Role Valorization. Something tells me I am far more enthusiastic about the training in these areas than any of my peers. Exposure to this philosophy provides a framework within which to consider my own vision of better education and support for my child and kids like him. I find it heartening that this company was founded over 30 years ago on the premise of “There’s got to be a better way.”

As I understand it, normalization is a vast topic that must be considered in the context of each individual. From my perspective, strict adherence to normalization (such as the educational ‘least restrictive environment’) not only contributed to a worsening in my son’s behaviors, but exposed him to deeply hurtful life experiences that diminished his ability to function at an optimal level in the community setting. Would this still have occurred with earlier access to better support? We’ll never know.

In fact, the more I contemplate, learn and write, the more questions I have.

Now that my son is receiving round the clock support in a nurturing and loving environment, does that mean he’s been ‘abnormalized?’
What is ‘normal’, anyway?
Who gets to make that determination?
What’s driving those decisions?

I feel that Social Role Valorization is a lofty, but necessary goal, as we move toward a more loving, inclusive, respectful way of living and being upon the planet and am grateful to be part of an organization whose vision is crafted around the concept. Even if that means my posts may be less frequent, a little shorter, and slightly less craft-focused. I hope you’ll understand.

Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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